Pakistan’s National Youth Carnival brings madrassa, mainstream students together

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A student at a singing competition during the National Youth Carnival 2017 in Peshawar on Monday. (AN photo)
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A student at a painting competition during the National Youth Carnival 2017 at Peshawar Sports Complex. (AN photo)
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A traditional Qehwa stall at the National Youth Carnival 2017 at Peshawar Sports Complex. (AN photo)
Updated 12 December 2017
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Pakistan’s National Youth Carnival brings madrassa, mainstream students together

PESHAWAR: Monday’s rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered at the Peshawar Sports Complex to enjoy the National Youth Carnival 2017 — also attended this year by madrassa students.
“The annual event was launched in 2013, and each year we try to improve it,” Mohammed Usman from Liaison Corp., which is managing the event, told Arab News.
“This year, we decided to include madrassa students because they’re considered a deprived segment of society, and they normally have few opportunities of this kind.”
The carnival, which started on Dec. 8, is the biggest extra-curricular activity for youth in Pakistan, he said.
Shahid Amin, a teacher at Jamiat-ur-Rashid in Karachi, said 21 students from the madrassa are participating in 14 categories.
“This is the first time we participate in such an event. Our students are competing in categories such as painting, calligraphy, qirat, na’at, essay writing and others,” he told Arab News.
Amin lauded Peshawar’s hospitality, and encouraged more madrassas to participate in such events.
Student Rehmat Wali, who is participating in an essay-writing competition, told Arab News that there should be such a competition in Arabic too since most madrassa students know the language.
Saddam Khan, a student at Abasyn University, said each of the 30 categories is being managed by five or six volunteers, most of them university students.
Asfandyar Khattak, director of youth affairs in the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), said the carnival selection trials for candidates began on Oct. 5, and 13,000 students took part in the preliminary competitions. He added that 1,100 students are now participating at the provincial and national levels.
Besides accessing regular schools and colleges, an online form was made available, through which 350 private students applied for the carnival, Khattak said, adding that 17 madrassas were invited to participate.
“Most of the madrassa students are participating in qirat, na’at, calligraphy, painting and essay writing in different languages,” he told Arab News.
It is a great opportunity to promote extra-curricular activities and integrate madrassa students into mainstream activities, he said, adding that the event is improving with each passing year.
“Last year we conducted competitions in 26 categories. This year there are 30. We plan to include oral and written competitions in Arabic next year, since most madrassa students are adept at the language,” he said.
Sports Minister Mehmood Khan and KPK Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said the provincial government spent 65 million Pakistani rupees ($593,450) on the event. Prizes worth 5 million Pakistani rupees are being given to competition winners, they added.
Youth from member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) — comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — will be invited to next year’s event, Qaiser said.


Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

Updated 29 min 35 sec ago
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Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

  • British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
  • Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”

GENEVA: Britain on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel, joining the United States in demanding an end to the body’s alleged bias against the Jewish State.
Addressing the opening of the 38th council session, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson said.
Israel is the only country with a dedicated council item.
Washington, some European countries and Australia have sided with Israel in condemning Item 7 as prejudiced, noting that countries with arguably worse rights records in recent years, like Syria are spared such intense scrutiny.
While previous US administrations have criticized Item 7, President Donald Trump’s government has raised the prospect of withdrawing from the council unless it is scrapped.
Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”
Each council session includes an agenda item on so-called country specific situations, known as Agenda Item 4, where debates on the crises in Syria, Burundi and others typically take place.